Wednesday Mashup (4/17/13)

April 17, 2013
  • Someone named Wayne Allyn Root over at Fix Noise opined as follows here

    There are no new jobs. There will be no new jobs. Creating jobs in Obama’s America is like trying to grow healthy plants in a nuclear blast zone. Obama has turned the U.S. economy into a “Hostile Work Environment.” I call it Obamageddon.

    And of course, there are zero citations for anything in this screed, which is totally typical from the media wing of the Republican Party.

    Yes, I’m sure there are smatterings of truth somewhere from Root (and at the very end of his column, he sneaks in a plug for his anti-Obama book, the latest from the right-wing outrage factory), such as payroll taxes going up (an expiration of the payroll tax cut not renewed by Congress, as noted here) and health insurance premiums going up (which has not one damn thing to do with “Obama Care,” since the exchanges aren’t due to go into effect until next year and the individual mandate, creating a whole bunch of new subscribers for the health insurance behemoths in this country, was upheld by The Supremes last year, as noted here).

    The inescapable fact is that the ultimate “power of the purse” in our government rests with the U.S. House, currently run by “Orange Man” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, not Obama. And as noted here, Boehner couldn’t keep his own caucus together to get a deal even on his laughable “Plan B” on the economy, punting the decision back to Obama and the Senate, as Kevin Drum tells us (which ties back to Boehner’s practice of keeping our economy in perpetual crisis, which is bound to drag down job growth, as noted here). And as noted here, Boehner and his pals continue to sit on Obama’s American Jobs Act.

    And I’m tired of hearing about how “austerity” supposedly is the answer to our problems on the economy, including job growth (the latest debunking is here). And do you want to know where deficit reduction has come from so far? As noted here, 70 percent came from cuts in government programs, which are stimulative to one degree or another, and only 30 percent came from increased revenue (and for good measure, this omnibus post from Jon Perr of Daily Kos gives us all kinds of information on who does a better job of managing the economy between Democrats and Republicans).

    But of course this is typical for Root, who called Obama the “Marxist-in-chief” who has “declared war on capitalism” here (really?).

  • Next, Thomas Sowell at clownhall.com tells us the following (here)…

    Amid all the heated, emotional advocacy of gun control, have you ever heard even one person present convincing hard evidence that tighter gun control laws have in fact reduced murders?

    Actually, yes. And here it is, from here

    Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive:

    Also, here is more related info:

  • This tells us that states with looser gun laws have higher rates of gun violence.
  • This tells us that gun homicides in Missouri increased by 25 percent after the state repealed its background check law.
  • This tells us that members of law enforcement are more likely to be killed in states with weaker gun laws (as I’ve said I don’t know how many times, why the #@!$ can’t we make the discussion about guns start from the point of view of what works best for the police? And yes, I know the answer.).
  • Gosnell_MM_Pic_0417
    And by the way, I’m going to switch gears here, as it were, and add the following graphic concerning the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell (courtesy of Media Matters…I’m sick of reading and listening to wingnut caterwauling over a supposed “liberal bias” cover up on this truly horrific story, as noted here – truly sickening stuff, and Gosnell could quite rightly IMHO face the death penalty if convicted…more is here).

    Update 4/18/13: If Marsha Blackburn is involved, then the stoo-pid is thick enough to cut with a knife (here).

    From our area, Pancake Joe Pitts, Scott Garrett and Mike Kelly signed; go to Blackburn’s web site if you want to experience this idiocy first hand (the last thing I’m going to do is link to it myself – a good response is here).

  • Continuing, it should be pointed out that, while one of Rupert Murdoch’s highest profile vanity rags is quite rightly getting excoriated for journalistic malpractice while reporting the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon (here), it shouldn’t be forgotten that they also committed another affront to decency here

    Fifty years ago (on 4/16), Martin Luther King Jr. penned one of the most enduring documents of the civil-rights struggle while locked in a jail cell in Birmingham, Ala.

    His Letter From Birmingham Jail was a clarion call for the right to civil disobedience. Though first requested by an editor for The New York Times, it was in the pages of The New York Post that these words would first be printed.

    This week, the Times published a very different kind of prison letter. Yesterday its op-ed pages carried an article titled “Gitmo Is Killing Me.” It was written by Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, whom the Times identifies only as “a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.”

    Pity the Times didn’t take a look at its own Web site before publishing. There, under a project called “The Guantanamo Docket,” is a Defense Department memo identifying the Yemeni national as “a member of al Qaeda who served on Osama bin Laden’s security detail.”

    The Post also points out that, as noted from here, Moqbel was indeed labeled as “A HIGH RISK . . . as he is likely to pose a threat to US interests.”

    However, when you read Page 3 of the 10-page “jacket” on Moqbel; you find out the following…

    Detainee traveled to Afghanistan, and stayed at a house in the Wazir Akbar Khan District of Kabul. Detainee left his passport at the house in Kabul before going to the frontlines to fight the Northern Alliance. He fought at the front lines north of Kabul as a fighter in the Sadiq Combat Unit, which consisted of approximately 15 or 16 fighters. Detainee received some pay as a fighter which enabled him to purchase needed items such as food and clothing. Detainee denied knowing (Osama bin Laden). After the US and Coalition bombing campaign initiated in Afghanistan, detainee believed it was too dangerous to be an Arab in Afghanistan; therefore, he fled the front-lines in December 2001 and stopped in Kabul. Detainee continued on to Khowst, AF, where he stayed for two weeks while he attempted to flee from Afghanistan.

    So basically, not only did Moqbel not fight against our troops, he was trying to get the hell out of Afghanistan after we invaded.

    And this guy is labeled “A HIGH RISK”? Am I missing something here? And as The Raw Story points out here, Moqbel was never even charged with a crime.

    Turning to Glenn Greenwald on this, we learn the following here (along with the fact that Moqbel is currently in the midst of a hunger strike to protest conditions in Guantanamo, which, when you learn more about it, is a national shame in and of itself, in particular the painful forced feedings endured by the inmates)…

    Moqbel…is Yemeni. More than half of the remaining 166 detainees at the camp are Yemeni. Dozens of those Yemenis (along with dozens of other detainees) have long ago been cleared for release by the US government on the ground that there is no evidence to believe they are a threat to anyone. A total of 87 of the remaining detainees – roughly half – have been cleared for release, of which 58 are Yemeni. Not even the US government at this point claims they are guilty or pose a threat to anyone.

    The Yemeni government not only is willing to take them, but is now demanding their release, using language notably harsh for a US puppet regime:

    “Even Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who generally enjoys close relations with the United States, has directed rare criticism at the Obama administration.

    “‘We believe that keeping someone in prison for over 10 years without due process is clear-cut tyranny,’ Hadi said in a recent interview broadcast over the Arabic language channel of Russia Today. ‘The United States is fond of talking democracy and human rights. But when we were discussing the prisoner issue with the American attorney general, he had nothing to say.'”

    “Clear-cut tyranny”, says Yemen’s president. But in January, 2010, Obama – not Congress, but Obama – announced a moratorium on the release of any Yemeni detainees, even ones cleared for release. As Amnesty International put it at the beginning of this year:

    “But President Obama adopted the USA’s unilateral and flawed ‘global war’ paradigm and accepted indefinite detentions under this framework.

    “Then, in 2010, his administration announced that it had decided that four dozen of the Guantánamo detainees could neither be prosecuted nor released, but should remain in indefinite military detention without charge or criminal trial. The administration also imposed a moratorium on repatriation of Yemeni detainees. and said that 30 such detainees would be held in ‘conditional’ detention based on ‘current security conditions in Yemen’. This moratorium is still in place.”

    I realize that Obama tried to close Guantanamo, but received push-back from Congress (and Greenwald has some interesting commentary on that also from his post). However, the matter of either charging the Guantanamo prisoners or releasing them to their countries of origin (as much as that is feasible considering whether or not they can return) is worthy of something I once heard referred to as “the fierce urgency of now” as opposed to “the somewhat tepid need to address this matter by whoever follows in office sometime after 2016.”

  • Finally, I should note from here that the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism were recently awarded; the New York Times won 4, including a team reporting award for some of the worker abuses at the Apple Foxconn facility in China. Others went to the Washington Post, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, FLA, the Denver Post, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.Oh, and Bret Stephens of the Murdoch Street Journal won an award for editorial writing.

    OK, I’ll give you a minute to pick yourself up off the floor; no doubt that you experienced a convulsion of laughter over that last sentence that sent you falling out of your chair.

    There’s one problem, though – it’s true.

    Yes, really.

    As the story puts it…

    The Pulitzer citation said Stephens’ columns on American foreign policy and politics are incisive and “often enlivened by a contrarian twist.”

    Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot said in a statement, “We’re delighted to see our colleague Bret Stephens recognized for his influential and popular columns on foreign affairs and politics.”

    So, in the spirit of the occasion, here are some examples of Stephens with his “contrarian twist” at work…

  • Here, he lamented the supposed foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration, even though Number 44 had only been sworn into office a month ago.
  • Here, he rather disgustingly compared John Lennon to the former Communist Party strongman who shared most of his last name.
  • Here, he misrepresented the Bush Doctrine and criticized Obama for stepping up a bit on the Darfur crisis, as opposed to Former President Numbskull.
  • Here, he defended “the surge” in Iraq and criticized Obama for not giving Dubya enough credit for it (typical wingnut mythology – any gains experienced as a result had to do more with the so-called “Sunni Awakening” and “Saint Petraeus” handing out bribes like cards from a deck of poker).
  • Here, he criticized other countries for swine flu preparedness (that seems to be a particular sticking point for conservatives for some reason – guess they want unnecessary wholesale casualties to “decrease the surplus population,” as somebody once wrote).
  • Stephens once wrote that “Consistency, principled or foolish, has never been a hobgoblin of the liberal mind.” in a column where he tried to equate the outing of covert U.S. agent Valerie Plame, who made a living tracking loose nukes before Bushco blew her cover, with Eric Holder’s investigation of interrogators who “threatened to kill the children and sexually assault the mother of a key terror suspect,” as noted here (some apples with your oranges, Bret?).
  • Here (as K.O. tells us), he said that those who acknowledged the reality of global warming were “Stalinists” (and why the hell isn’t that man back on the air by now – Keith, I mean?).
  • Here, Stephens decided to look into the future in an effort to try and imagine more scenarios of failure for President Obama.
  • I cannot imagine what persuaded the committee awarding the Pulitzers into such an utterly laughable act as giving an award to this conservative hack (the fourth estate in this country continues to die a slow and inexorable death).

    Cheney
    If Bret Stephens can win a Pulitzer, then Dick Cheney can win the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Update 4/18/13: And as long as I’m discussing the Journal, I should point out that writer Peter Nicholas wrote this “news” story about Obama now choosing to lead, or whatever, in light of the fact that it took him three days to respond to the attempted Christmas plane bombing in 2009 by the guy who nearly blew up his junk instead. That appears to be accurate reporting, though.

    However, I don’t recall reading similar columns from the Journal about Obama’s wretched predecessor now choosing to lead or whatever after he waited six days to respond to the attemped plane attack by would-be show bomber Richard Reid, as noted here (see Myth 3).

    Lather, rinse, repeat…

    Update 4/22/13: And I somehow missed this earlier “gem” from Stephens.

    Update 4/14/17: Stephens recently won a gig as a columnist at The Old Gray Lady, where he no doubt will challenge BoBo as the leading white male practitioner of talking down to women, people of color and LGBTQ gender preferences – I think this is a good column to link to as a rejoinder of sorts (h/t Atrios).


Thursday Mashup (3/21/13)

March 21, 2013
  • Last Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Gideon v. Wainright in which the High Court ruled unanimously that the Constitution requires the states to provide defense attorneys to criminal defendants charged with serious offenses who cannot afford lawyers themselves (this was the basis for the great TV movie called “Gideon’s Trumpet” starring Henry Fonda – here).

    As noted here, though…

    The issue is by no means settled. In his recent New York Times editorial “The Right to Counsel: Badly Battered at 50,” Lincoln Caplan contends that “After 50 years, the promise of Gideon v. Wainwright is mocked more of than fulfilled,” at times because of the lack of funding for public defender offices, in other cases due to incompetent counsel. He concludes, “There is no shortage of lawyers to do this work. What stands in the way is an undemocratic, deep-seated lack of political will.”

    Indeed – as noted here, Georgia shifted the burden of providing counsel to its 159 counties; this was an issue in particular for capital murder cases involving the death penalty (don’t know if it was an issue here or not) – apparently Georgia is responsible for more executions than any state except Texas (I think that’s what the author meant to say instead of “Houston”). And it’s not much better in the “Sunshine State” (here); New York State has issues also as noted here (lest anyone think I intend to pick on “red” states only).

    And from here

    The Supreme Court has carved out other exceptions to the right to counsel after an arrest. It has allowed law enforcement officials to have ex parte contacts with defendants to determine whether the defendant is in fact represented by counsel (sic). It has also allowed ex parte communications that are made with the consent of defendant’s counsel; those made pursuant to discovery procedures, such as subpoenas; communications in the course of a criminal investigation; communications necessary to protect the life or safety of another person; and those made by a represented person, so long as the person has knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the right to have counsel present. These exceptions apply to all persons, regardless of whether they can afford their own attorney.

    And as noted here

    No one wants to pay for more public defenders. Or, better put, few people in political power care enough about the gross injustices being done to poor people to spend more money trying to ensure they receive adequate representation. “Inadequate funding is the primary source of the systemic failure in indigent defense programs nationwide,” concluded Harvard Law School student David A. Simon in a thoughtful law review piece published a few years ago. “Of the more than $146.5 billion spent annually on criminal justice, over half is allocated to support the police officers and prosecutors who investigate and prosecute cases, while only about two to three percent goes toward indigent defense.”

    (Criminal justice experts Stephen B. Bright and Sia M. Sanneh) don’t just blame lawmakers. “Many judges tolerate or welcome inadequate representation because it allows them to process many cases in a short time,” they write. And the problem is made worse, they contend, because the “Supreme Court has refused to require competent representation, instead adopting a standard of ‘effective counsel’ that hides and perpetuates deficient representation.” Not only that, Simon adds, but the justices have “neglected to specify which level of government — federal, state or local — must serve as the guarantor” of the right to counsel nor the “method by which states should administer their public defender programs.” No one is responsible, in other words, because everyone is in charge.

    Let us hope that this HBO documentary, due to air this summer, helps to shed some more light on this travesty.

  • Further, I give you the latest from the fake outrage factory here (ZOMG! There goes that Marxist preh-zee-dint of ours again)…

    Yesterday during the White House daily press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked by “just a blogger” if President Obama planned to cut back on his lavish vacations and travel at a time when the country is hurting economically. Carney’s answer wasn’t “no,” but rather a long drawn out “Obama is focused on jobs.”

    This question came just one week after it was revealed the Obama’s are living at a cost of $1.4 billion per year.

    This is an attempt to re-spin the finding here from last year that the Obama White House spent $1.4 billion on vacations, which was totally ridiculous when it was first pronounced for the reasons noted here (actually, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs did an even better job of dispensing with this nonsense here).

    Memo to clownhall.com…the purse strings of the federal government rest with the House of Representatives. Neither you nor your wingnut brethren have any right whatsoever to complain about the effects of the sequester, particularly when Obama and the Senate Democrats have been proposing alternatives that don’t totally screw over many more people than necessary in this country and leave the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch untouched as usual.

    Meanwhile, Man Tan Boehner, that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv and the rest of the Repug “young guns” (with Mikey the Beloved pledging his supine acceptance) are bound and determined to shove austerity down our throats whether we like it or not, all to make Congressional Democrats and Number 44 look as bad as they can.

  • Next, BoBo of the New York Times is back, as noted from here

    There is a statue outside the Federal Trade Commission of a powerful, rambunctious horse being reined in by an extremely muscular man. This used to be a metaphor for liberalism. The horse was capitalism. The man was government, which was needed sometimes to restrain capitalism’s excesses.

    Today, liberalism seems to have changed. Today, many progressives seem to believe that government is the horse, the source of growth, job creation and prosperity. Capitalism is just a feeding trough that government can use to fuel its expansion.

    For an example of this new worldview, look at the budget produced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus last week. These Democrats try to boost economic growth with a gigantic $2.1 trillion increase in government spending — including a $450 billion public works initiative, a similar-size infrastructure program and $179 billion so states, too, can hire more government workers.

    Oh yes, how dare those baaad, dastardly Dems try to hire more “government workers” (police, fire, teachers – you know, those lazy, gold-bricking swine…snark). And of course, David Brooks won’t tell us that the U.S. House Repugs and their economic warfare on said workers (as part of the austerity I noted earlier) is one of the biggest drags against our economic recovery (here).

    Oh, and BoBo also tells us the following about taxes (Brooks is responding to Back to Work, the plan of the Progressive Democratic Caucus, which would indeed raise the top-end rate to 49 percent – for anyone making $1 billion or more – I’ll acknowledge that there could be a “bite” when you calculate state and local taxes with it, but I’m sorry, I don’t see that as a “game changer”; maybe try to factor in a tax credit for these folks when we return to prosperity? Just a thought…)…

    Now, of course, there have been times, like, say, the Eisenhower administration, when top tax rates were very high. But the total tax burden was lower since so few people paid the top rate and there were so many ways to avoid it. Government was smaller.

    And high earners aren’t avoiding taxes now? Really?

    And Brooks also trots out the “higher taxes will cause me to work less” argument, supported by former Bushie Greg Mankiw among others – I think it is important to consider this in response, mainly that such thinking is counter-intuitive to human nature (wouldn’t you want to work more to make up lost earnings?) – also, deferring taxation this way might end up putting more of a burden on your kids if you’re a parent.

    As noted here, though, BoBo has been wrong about income inequality for years (and as noted here, Brooks once blamed women for it – nice). And for good measure, he once defended the “one percent” here (Matt Yglesias responds also here – h/t Jay Ackroyd at Eschaton).

    In conclusion, I just wanted to note that I did a search for “unemployed” or any variation thereof in Brooks’s column, and I came up empty, which isn’t surprising I know (love to see how Brooks would do having to work one or two “McJobs” in an effort to make up for his cushy pundit paycheck and related perks).

  • And never to be outdone when it comes to self-righteous indignation, the Murdoch Street Journal whines as follows here (about Medicare Advantage, which, quite rightly, is being targeted for a budget cut)…

    The tragedy is that Medicare Advantage architecture is far from perfect and HHS could save money if it wanted to, in particular by targeting the private fee-for-service plans that mimic all of traditional Medicare’s dysfunctions except with an element of private profit. But that approach conflicts with the Administration’s political goal of strangling Medicare Advantage in the crib.

    (Conservatives just love to punctuate their literary flourishes with violent imagery, don’t they?)

    As noted here

    Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.

    And as noted here

    Private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage are often able to attract healthier Medicare beneficiaries by offering cheap — but bare-bones — health plans. When those healthier seniors encounter a medical problem that’s too extensive for their private coverage, they switch over to the more generous traditional Medicare program in order to take advantage of its more expansive benefits. That in turn, raises spending in the traditional Medicare pool

    And just go ahead and call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but based on this poll from last December, I would say that most of those people polled want traditional Medicare to be left alone (despite all of its “dysfunctions,” something the Repugs would do well to get through their thick heads in light of this).

  • Finally, Irrational Spew Online bloviates as follows here

    Elizabeth Warren was slated to be the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republicans stopped her confirmation, so now she is leading the charge to confirm Richard Cordray to that office.

    But nobody should be the head of this monstrous Dodd-Frankenstein by-product. The structure and powers of the CFPB, as created by Congress, put it outside our constitutional system. Most significantly, Congress allotted the bureau an independent source of revenue, guaranteed its insulation from legislative or executive oversight, and gave it the power to define and punish “abusive” practices.

    Actually, this tells us that the CFPB can have its rules vetoed by something called the FSOC, and no other regulator is subject to this kind of a check (so much for operating “outside our constitutional system”). Also, this tells us how Warren has called out the Repugs on their BS over Cordray in particular and the CFPB and Dodd-Frank in general.

    And as noted here (in the matter of supposed “insulation from legislative or executive oversight”)…

    “Since his first confirmation hearing in September 2011, Director Cordray has appeared before this Committee more than any other financial regulator,” said (South Dakota Democratic U.S. Senator Tim) Johnson. “During that time, he has proved to be a strong leader of the CFPB. He has completed many of the rules required by Wall Street Reform, including a well-received final [Qualified Mortgage] rule. He listens, and has crafted strong rules that take into account all sides of an issue. He has laid the groundwork for nonbank regulation. He has brought to light the financial challenges faced by students, elderly Americans, servicemembers and their families. He has taken important enforcement actions against banks that took advantage of customers. So I ask my colleagues, what more can Richard Cordray do to deserve an up-or-down vote? I hope we can finally put aside politics and move forward with Richard Cordray’s confirmation.” – Consumerist, 3/19/13

    The Daily Kos post tells us that the U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The vote was 12-10 along party lines. Every Democrat supported him. Every Republican opposed him.

    As mad as I get at the Dems at times, I get even madder at people who say they’re the same as Republicans. The latter bunch just wants to keep fleecing us, fighting unending wars for little or no purpose, fouling the environment at will, sitting on their collective hands while austerity tries to wreck our fledgling recovery, allowing weapons of death to continue flooding every school, movie theater, and gathering place of any kind in this country, and continually trying to demonize the opposition party instead of working with them on behalf of the best interests of the majority of the people of this nation (oh, but they’re “pro-life,” aren’t they? Not if you’re actually born, they’re not).

    And unless you’re rich, if you know all this and still support these fools, frauds and charlatans (at least on the national level anyway – I’ve encountered precious few good Republicans on the local level, though not recently), then I have no tolerance for your point of view.

    Your willful ignorance continues to be the ruin of this country. Heckuva job!


  • Friday Mashup (11/30/12)

    December 1, 2012
  • To begin, let’s take on the “crazy” right away with Joseph Curl of the formerly Moonie Times (here – a little behind on some of this stuff, I’ll admit)…

    Sure, the president got his minions to drop the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent a couple months before the election (“See? It IS getting better!”). But bam, just like you can be sure that the one relative who drives you nuts will absolutely make it to your house for the holidays, new jobless claims skyrocketed right after Nov. 6, jumping to 439,000 — up 78,000 from the week before the election.

    Oh yes, that Kenyan Muslim socialist pre-zee-zint cooked the unemployment numbers to win the election. Horrors!

    I thought this was a good response to the Ohio/Pennsylvania thing; namely, the state unemployment numbers are a week behind the federal numbers, and the state numbers in question weren’t released until November 10th – the federal Sandy-influenced numbers were released on November 3rd, with New Jersey being the 3rd-highest state in unemployment behind Ohio and PA…a fortuitous break for Obama to be sure, but definitely not an “OMIGOD ANOTHER SCARY MUSLIM BLACK MAN CONSPIRACY!!!” (what matters is whether or not the numbers turn out to be a trend or an aberration, and how much the numbers are attributed to OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!!).

    With all of this in mind, Joe Nocera defends the Bureau of Labor Statistics here against the charge (made by Jack Welch and other greed heads) that Obama cooked the numbers (and I thought this was a good response also, with the trend lines providing the key details).

  • Next, this life form at clownhall.com tells us of the supposed “job killing” FDA-required menu labeling guidelines for calories stipulated in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act (which allegedly requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including franchises and perhaps some grocery stores, to post calorie information for all products on in-store menu boards).

    I’m not exactly sure how this could be deemed as an issue, since, as noted here, the FDA withdrew food menu guidelines as of January 2011.

  • Continuing, this article from the Murdoch Street Journal tells us the following…

    The former chief executive of Massey Energy Co. said in a rare interview that he has no immediate plans to return to the coal-mining business after a noncompete agreement expires at the end of the year.

    (Don) Blankenship has started a personal website and began posting again on Twitter.

    A controversial figure in the coal industry and West Virginia politics, (Blankenship) has largely kept himself out of the spotlight since retiring from Massey in December 2010, eight months after an explosion—the industry’s worst in 40 years—killed 29 workers at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

    In recent weeks, the 62-year-old Mr. Blankenship has launched a red-white-and-blue-themed personal website and began posting again on Twitter, raising speculation that he might be preparing to launch a business venture or even a political campaign.

    Well well now, isn’t that interesting? Imagine the utter nightmare of a Senator Don Blankenship, people.

    In response, there’s a ton of garbage here on Blankenship, including telling us that he considers the science on climate change to be “humorous” (not surprising, given that Blankenship made his fortune in coal) and that mountaintop removal for coal mining is “small afterdamage”; we also learn that Massey disabled the mine methane monitors before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, so that the miners could “continue to run coal.”

    And speaking of the disaster, Massey under Blankenship also denied time off to the friends of the victims working at the mines so they could go to the funerals (nice).

    Gosh, the campaign slogan just about writes itself, doesn’t it? Vote for Don Blankenship To Risk An Unnatural Death While The Planet Slowly Suffocates.

    I’ll bet the Teahadists are already planning campaign rallies.

  • Finally, fresh off his victory over Dem Kathy Boockvar in the election a few weeks ago, I give you the following involving our wet noodle Repug PA-08 U.S. House rep (here)…

    Just two days after the November election, members of progressive groups filed into Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s office and called on him to oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of any budget deal.
    On Black Friday, as shoppers lined up at Oxford Valley Mall, many likely saw a 30-foot banner at the Woodbourne Road I-95 overpass, compliments of Pennsylvania Working Families that stated, “Tell Rep. Fitzpatrick: Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts.”

    In the meantime, large labor unions took out radio ads targeting Fitzpatrick and fellow Republican Pat Meehan to renew middle class tax breaks.

    Election? What election?

    Oh, I’m sorry – I forgot to point out that this column was written by Mikey’s designated stenographer Gary Weckselblatt (who apparently believes, like a typical Repug, that election losers ought to sit down and shut up, since their opinion no longer matters, as if it ever did to begin with…oh, and speaking of “what election?,” I give you this).

    Continuing…

    (Fitzpatrick) said Obama’s plan to raise rates on the wealthy “presents American families with false choices that lead to more economic stagnation.”

    He called for a “grand bargain” that resolves not only the expiring tax rates but a fix to avoid the Medicare physician payment cuts and the looming debt ceiling.

    “I will vote for a plan which is bipartisan in nature that does not cost jobs,” he said. “My district demands we consider all the options, and to earn my vote any deal presented to Congress must present a vision for putting middle income families back on the path for stability and prosperity. And it must not cost jobs.”

    Earlier this year, the Senate voted to extend tax breaks for all but the top wage earners. The House voted to keep the rates for all.

    Asked if at the deadline he would support a version of the Senate plan to protect a potential hit to the middle class, Fitzpatrick said “call me then … you’re asking me a theoretical question.”

    What a profile in courage, my fellow prisoners.

    In response, 350 economists called for investment in jobs instead of “austerity” (which Mikey is basically calling for more of) here (including passage of the American Jobs Act, which continues to gather dust due to inaction from Mikey and his Repug pals in the House). And this is actually better evidence than the prior link that raising the top marginal rate would help job growth, not hurt it.

    And in a related story, as they say (concerning the “A” word), Pastor Gerson pontificates as follows here

    America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault…

    Pardon me while I gag.

    For the reality point of view in response, former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett tells us the following here

    Because of the large deficits Mr. Bush bequeathed Mr. Obama – on Jan. 8, 2009, the C.B.O. projected a deficit for the year of $1.3 trillion that didn’t include any Obama policies – Congress was deeply reluctant to enact a stimulus larger than $787 billion, even though President Obama’s economic advisers thought that one at least twice as large was necessary to turn the economy around. The opposition of every Republican to the 2009 stimulus was a major factor in its inadequate size.

    By way of analogy, suppose you go to your doctor with an illness. He correctly diagnoses it and prescribes the right medicine, but for some reason you are given a dosage only half as large as required. The medicine was enough to improve your condition, but not enough to cure you. You remain sick although you feel better and will remain so until you finally get a full dosage of the proper medicine or your body is able to cure itself, which might take years.
    Note that in this analogy the medicine was properly prescribed; only the dosage was wrong. It would be incorrect to blame the medicine because you are still sick.

    The Republican economists nevertheless blame the medicine itself for the failure of the economy to respond to President Obama’s prescription.

    But it was Republican policies during the Bush administration that brought on the sickness and Republicans in Congress who have denied the economy an adequate dosage of the cure. Now they want to implicitly blame President Obama for causing the recession and the failure of stimulus to fix the problem, asserting that fiscal stimulus is per se ineffective.

    There is a word for this: chutzpah.

    I can think of some words myself, but I really do endeavor to keep this a profanity-free zone, so I’ll just let that go for now (and this tells us that the development by “no one’s particular fault,” according to Gerson, is hammering state economies). And for good measure, Professor Krugman chimes in as follows from here

    …the economic doctrine that demands austerity also rationalizes social injustice and cruelty more broadly, and how this recommends it to authority, rings especially true.

    We might add an insight from another 20th-century economist, Michal Kalecki, who wrote a penetrating 1943 essay on the importance to business leaders of the appeal to “confidence.” As long as there are no routes back to full employment except that of somehow restoring business confidence, he pointed out, business lobbies in effect have veto power over government actions: propose doing anything they dislike, such as raising taxes or enhancing workers’ bargaining power, and they can issue dire warnings that this will reduce confidence and plunge the nation into depression. But let monetary and fiscal policy be deployed to fight unemployment, and suddenly business confidence becomes less necessary, and the need to cater to capitalists’ concerns is much reduced.

    And Gerson actually has the utterly contemptible gall to use the words “austerity” and “morality” in the same sentence of his WaPo screed.

    By the way (returning to Mikey), I’m still waiting for The Treason-Alleging Liar to renounce his “no new taxes” pledge to Grover Norquist, who, last I checked, did not reside in Fitzpatrick’s congressional district (maybe Mikey could be spurred on by some of his Repug playmates who’ve found a collective spine on this issue, as noted here).


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